My wife was in an auto accident (other driver was cited for being at fault) about 14 months ago. She has recently been released by her doctor and we are pursuing the settlement. My wife's medical bills total about $9000.00 and she went to Therapy for 14 months and the doctor concluded, ''I anticipate that (my wife) will have lifelong cervical spine pain and limited function. She has achieved 75% of her physical therapy goals so I would estimate a 25% disability, permanent and ongoing.'' My wife does have pain but has returned to her normal day-to-day activities. How can we know if the insurance company is offering us a fair settlement? Is there any special formula/information that is used to estimate what a fair offer is? I have heard double or triple the medical costs (as long as there is nothing like a lost limb or something) is fair. If we decide to get a Lawyer, what percentage is a fair price to pay? Are there other costs/fees involved other than the percentage? If we get a Lawyer, is the percentage the same whether or not it actually goes to court? If a Lawyer is going to take 50 – 60%, what are the advantages of having a Lawyer represent her? Any other advice is appreciated.
3 Answers from Attorneys
Re: Wife's Settlement
There are a variety of rough rules of thumb to use to calculate a "fair" award, but there are many factors that may significantly alter the rule of thumb. Retaining the services of an attorney provides you with peace of mind that all pertinent things were looked at, and that the settlement offer is fair and reasonable under the specific circumstances of your wife's case. Our firm charges an attorney fee of one-third, which I believe is standard. There are a variety of services included with this, such as attempts to negotiate lower repayments to the subrogated parties, i.e. if your health insurance paid a medical bill for medical services that were a result of injuries your wife received in the accident, then they likely have a subrogated interest by means of the contract of insurance you have with them, to recover those medical bills. There are many issues that you should be aware of, and keep in mind that the people working for the insurance company likely know much more about those issues than you do. If we believe that our professional services will add value to your claim, then we would agree to represent you. There are times, when that is not the case, and we do not undertake the representation. The prospective client is better off (financially, etc.) concluding the case themselves.
In short, you have nothing to loose by contacting an attorney and discussing the case. Whether you retain the attorney or not, is your decision.
I can be reached at 513-892-3400 should you wish to discuss further.
Re: Wife's Settlement
My advice is seek an attorney. The value of your case will be threefold. generally, the contingency fee is 33 1/3% up to 40%.
Re: Wife's Settlement
Your wife’s injuries sound very serious, and I suggest you seek the advice of an attorney. I would be willing, as would most attorneys, to discuss her case with you free of charge.
There are several issues to consider, and you must remember that the insurance representative is most likely much more experienced in handling these matter than you are. Usually, retaining an attorney adds value to your claim in addition to assisting you negotiate with the insurance company.
Many “rules of thumb” have been pasted around for the determination of the value of a case. Some people use 3 to 5 times the medical cost. I have found that the “rules of thumb” are not always accurate. You have to take into consideration past medical cost, future medical cost, impact of enjoyment of life, the impact on you as her husband, the permanency of the injury, and perhaps most important how much of any settlement will need to be repaid to your insurance carriers.
Most firms charge attorney fees of one-third, which I believe is standard. The attorney fee is in exchange for a number of services, such as attempting to negotiate lower repayment amounts to your insurance companies. In addition to the attorney fee, by law the client is responsible for the expenses of litigation, because an attorney is not permitted to finance litigation.
Discussing your case with an attorney will not cost you anything, so I strongly suggest you do so. I will be glad to discuss your options with you at 216.241.2500.
CAUTION: Ohio has a 2year statute of limitations for bodily injury. This means that you MUST file suit within 2 years of the date of the accident in order to recover. If you fail to do so, the insurance company will not settle with you.